Transportation Styles In The Philippines

Transportation Styles In The Philippines

Jeepneys

        One time during my trip in the Philippines I was able to spend a day with my Youtube friends Dimple, and Dana who are sisters I met through Youtube on the internet. We used public transportation to get around the city. My time spent with them was wonderful and I learned a lot about how public transportation works in Metro Manila.

            Using public transportation in the Philippines is quite interesting. The majority of public transportation there is delivered by what Filipinos call jeepneys. From what I have heard, they were leftover U.S. army trucks from World War II. Since then, I believe the Filipinos have also made their own, and owners hire drivers to drive around the city and pick up passengers for 7 pesos each trip. Jeepneys look like small buseswith major style. The owners paint the vehicles with different graphics and pictures. Some have all kinds of suped up decals and artowork as well as really bright lights and loud speakers playing all kinds of music. It reminds me of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” applied to buses.  They have the most random words on them as well. For example, the jeepney I rode in had the words Anthrax written on a sign above the front of it. I do not know what any of the words mean, but some others I saw had the words “Fighting,” “American,” and some had the owner’s name on them. Maybe Anthrax was a dedication to the heavy metal band with the same name, but I really do not know.

        When inside a jeepney, one notices that it is very cramped and people are extremely close together depending on how many people are riding in it each time. Extra people who cannot fit in the seats hold the back of the jeepney and stand. They hang on bars to hold themselves up as they put their feet on special foot placements. The jeepney also has a low roof and taller passengers like myself have to bend forward for the ride. This can be very uncomfortable on the spine for long distances. Jeepneys are open air and the windows have no glass; when it rains people can get soaked, but some have a tarp they tie up with bungee chords to protect passengers from most of the rain; but not all of it unfortunately. It was dry when I rode the jeepney and I could smell the smog from automobiles and the overall pollution of Manila. The jeepney was blasting ACDC’s song with the lyrics “She’ll be all night long” as it turned corners really fast and swerved through traffic completely owning the road. At night time some jeepneys that are fancier than others have neon lights underneath and on top much like low-rider cars. They blast hip hop music or rock and roll really loud which reminds me of a mini, moving dance club. One night when I was riding back to the missionaries house I was saying at with another local Filipino pastor we got on a jeepney that had bright lights and loud bass. The interior was lit up with red and white lights. The outside had neon strips of lights going all over it. The band Linkin Park was playing really loud with heavy guitar parts. Older people riding the bus just stared blankly forward and younger college aged and high school kids laughed and talked a lot. It was a pretty fun ride and a unique experience. To me such decoration comes off as cheesy, but yet so awesome!

        Each jeepney has what Filipinos call a “barker,” which is someone who calls out their route to passengers in order to pick them up (he barks out the routes to prospecting passengers). They are the ones who collect money. I have heard that the jeepney drivers and barkers are tough people, and if you do not pay they are not afraid to punch you in the face and throw you out. They also get very upset if you give them large bills to pay for the ride. They prefer exact change or small bills and lager coin currencies. They will make change such money, but anything larger they will tell you to get off. Most drivers have all kinds of good luck charms on their dashboards such as stickers os patron saints, Mother Mary and Jesus as well as small Buddha statues and other gods. So syncretism with religion is very noticeable with such people.

        Over the last week I stayed in the Philippines I was able to ride jeepneys several times. To emphasize the tough character of the drivers, the first driver of the jeepney I was in first of the morning ran over a stray dog. I felt the vehicle break really hard and then I heard screeching over and over. It turns out it was not tires screeching but the dog yelping in extreme pain. When I looked out the back of jeepney I saw a dirty white dog pulling itself in circles. Only the dog’s front legs would work and it fliped around over and over as it writhed in extreme pain. Slowly the dog was able to drag itself off the street to the side where it went out of sight in some grass. I felt terrible, but the jeepney driver shrugged it off and did not care. Even the passengers showed no real emotions about it. But this kind of thing probably happens all of the time in Metro Manila. To get a jeepney to stop the passenger only has to yell “para” which means “stop” in Tagalog. All public transportation on the streets is stopped in this way.

 

 

Tricycles

        When I first rode a tricycle it was with Dimple and Dana going to their house and we all three crammed into it, with Dimple on the back. A tricycle is fun. It is a motorcycle with a sidecar and has a small seat directly behind the driver for an extra person, this is where Dimple sat. There is a roof above the driver reminiscent of a golf cart to keep passengers from getting wait in the rain. We drove through the barangay through a subdivision to get to their house. I remember it smelled like gas and smoke made it hard to breath. The motor is also pretty loud and it can be hard to hear what is going on outside of the cart let alone see what is outside since the passenger is boxed inside the small side campartment.

        If one has to ride a tricycle (also called a trike) with more than one passenger it can be very uncomfortable, especially for tall people. Since I am taller than most Filipinos, when doing ministry with three other men one day, I had to sometimes ride on the back seat. I crouched down and had to have my back bent in an uncomfortable position until we reached our destination. This was because the roof over the driver was too low for me. Only about 2 people can fit inside the side cart of a tricycle (3 if the people are small). A large person cannot fit on a tricycle with other people so they have to ride on the cramped back seat with the low roof when other passangers are present. Tricycle drivers drive very fast and erratic at times, but it is really fun! One downside is that the motor of the bike is right next to the side car so many times I had to breathe the smoke as the engine burned. Also, when it rains you get soaked if you are on the back as there is not much protection. Inside the car is better, but you also cannot see where the tricycle is going because the small windows are always dirty and if it is raining the plastic covering that is meant to protect the passenger from the rain is blurry. I kept thinking that a tricycle driver could take me anywhere he wants without me realizing it only knowing when we stop where I would end up.  

        Tricycle rides usually cost 7 pesos, but can be more expensive depending on what barangay one is in. Sometimes it can also cost less with more people riding it at one time. 

 

Train/Subway

        When I was hanging out with Dimple and Dana that one day, we took the metro-link train all the way to inner Manila. Trains are much like the subway train in Los Angeles. The only exceptions are that people are always cramped inside the boxcars, all of the time. Only the lucky and early people can rush in and grab a seat. Most people have to hold onto a bar or handles connected to the ceiling to keep their balance. All of the passenger’s bodies are very close together. In the past the city had problems with perverts grabbing females’ body parts, so my friends informed me that at one time they split up the boxcars with all male and all female cars to segregate people. Now it is optional as there is one designated car in the front for females only.

Taxi cab

            Later that night we took a taxi a few blocks to one of our destinations. The taxi was much like the taxis in the United States, but much cheaper. The car smelled like cigarette smoke and the driver was in a hurry, but polite. I noticed he had a small cigar he was smoking. He was unusually nice as he only charged us a small amount for the short distance we traveled. This is rare in Manila. I guess he felt sorry for us because of the two girls I was with and there was a storm. At out stop he let us off in the extreme pouring rain and we had to step through a large and deep puddle to get to the sidewalk. We got soaked. But it was a lot of fun and then we caught the train again to get back home.

        About three other times I was able to take a taxi as well. I was with the son of the missionary I stayed with for the last two weeks of my trip. These taxi drivers were rude and complained a lot about our destination being out of the way with no passengers going back and wanted a huge tip. Taxi drivers are not very nice people for the most part which is unlike my first taxi experience with Dimple and Dana; I guess I was lucky that my first taxi driver was so nice. These drivers whined like children and began swearing. It was rediculous. I have heard rumours that some of them will go crazy and try to rob you. Apparently, a few days later that missionary kid who was with me got into a taxi when he was alone and the guy was trying to con him out of money by not running the meter and was very upset that the destination was out of the way and there would be no passengers to pick up on the way back. So, the driver stopped the car and forced the kid to get out before he got home. The taxi driver demanded his money and the kid got frustrated and annoyed at the drivers behavior so he threw the money in the back of the seat all over the place and walked away. The driver began to flip him off and cuss him out. The kid got away okay, but it could have been dangerous. Taxi drivers have no patience and can act irrationally with anger sometimes.

        Another funny think about vehicles in the Philippines is that there are basically no street rules that are really followed. The paint on the road for lanes are just suggestions, not actual rules. So, cars drive all over the street on any side they want and drivers just have to watch out for one another. It can be scarey sometimes.

Railroad pushcarts

            One other style of public transportation I took was the most interesting and amazing. In the city of Alabang there is a railroad track that is no longer in use. The locals have built rickety push carts out of wood and home made wheels that grip the tracks. These carts are powered by a human engine who pushes the carts by running and then jumping on a foot rest to ride a long with it. When the energy dissipates, the man pushing the cart jumps off and begins running more and pushing it again. He repeats this over and over. Carts can fit about fifteen people so it can be heavy for the pusher; especially in the hot sun as there is no shade. There is only one track and carts go both ways on it. When two carts head toward each other the cart with less people on it stops and the people get off. The pusher of that cart lifts the entire cart off the track on its side as the other cart passes. The carts are light weight and can be lifted easy as they are placed back on the track and the passengers get back on. These carts only cost 5 pesos a trip.

Bus

        I also was able to ride a bus one time with a local pastor. It costs 11 pesos to ride a bus and they are owned privately. All transportation in the Philippines, except for the train is privately owned. These buses are very large, much larger than the average bus in the U.S. When I got on I did not have to pay right away which seemed unusual. I was told to just sit down by the pastor who was traveling with me. There are two men on the bus much like a jeepney, one drives and the other collects the money and gives a small ticket. He walks up to the passenger and collects the money while the bus is already in motion (one can only imagine what happens to passengers who do not have payment). The money collector switches places with the driver from time to time to give each other breaks from driving. The space in the bus is very wide and comfortable. The seats were a little old and torn in some areas and the bus played the radio loud. This bus was playing Linkin Park just like the jeepney earlier mentioned (this band seems very popular in the Philippines). Later, the driver turned off the radio and turned on the TV. There was a TV at the front of the bus to watch and it was playing a Filipino soap opera. Many of the Filipina ladies on the bus were intensely watching it. To stop the bus the passenger just has to yell “para” which means stop. A bus can pick up a person anywhere on the road just like a jeepney can and stop anywhere on the road as well. During our trip on the bus the driver stopped near a station and went outside and left the money collector on board. The driver took over 15 minutes to come back. He was busy talking to some people and I have no clue what about or why he stopped. Other passengers after awhile were getting impatient and showing outwardly that they were annoyed. Finally the driver came back on and drove us further.

Airplane and Boat

        Airplanes and boats are not exactly “public” transportation, but it is a form of getting somewhere between islands. We rode on a local airline to get to the city of Bacolod, and another time the Island or Boracay. Airplanes are much like they are in the U.S. with the same kinds of rules and attitudes of people. We rode on small jets.

        Riding a boat in the Philippines is another issue. To get to the island of Boracay upon destination one has to take a small boat. This was fun and we were told to wear lifejackets. The sailors piled our luggage on top of the boat as we sat in the interior. The windows have no glass or any covering so you can stick your hands out in the water and feel the wind. The boat was powered with a motor and when we arrived within a few minutes we just took turns getting off the boat and walking over a ricket bridge with hand rails to get to the dock.

Other forms of transportation I did not experience

        Bicycles with carts which are much like the motorcycle trikes I rode was one vehicle I did not get to try. It is powered by the pedalling of the driver and has a roof as well. This is much slower transportation. I only got to observe this breifly during my travels around the city.

        Horse and carriage is one way of transportation in downtown Manila near the bay. This is much like fancy downtown areas of major U.S. cities that try to remind you of historic traditional things. Two FilAm girls I was with during my trip rode around the block and it took a really long time as it is very slow.

Overall reflection of public transportation in the Philippines

            What I noticed about the public transportation in Metro-Manila, Philippines is that it is very fast paced and passengers travel in what seems at times, as uncomfortably cramped spaces. This would make most Americans feel uncomfortable. I also noticed that if you are not knowledgeable about prices, especially if you are foreign like me, the drivers of taxis, and tricycles will try to rip you off and tell you a more expensive price; so one has to be careful to not ask “How much?” because that question can cause a passenger to get cheated. Even with such differences in the Philippines I recommend traveling in all the modes of public transportation you can there. Try things at least once because the experience is amazing.

        God has really shown me a lot through the cultural differences in transportation in the Philippines that people are creative in their own ways, work with what little they have to get things going and make some money; especially in Alabang. What creative genious minds who created the pushcarts on the rails. I also notice the indifference in attitudes towards animal death and slight road rage that jeepney drivers display. Riding transportation also gives a person a wide screen view of the landscape and different people riding along with you. It was also interesting to see the syncretistic religious nature of the Philippines by what drivers have on their dashboards. So if you ever get to the Philippines with a missionaries mindset check this stuff out and ride all over the place in the general public! Do not just hire personal drivers. Resist such temptation for convenient travel if you are staying at a rich person’s house because you will miss so much. Public transportation in the Philippines is unique and exciting!

Avoiding The Law?

Avoiding The Law?

        Currently, there is a major trend in the “christian” cultural flavor of the day that, like all of the others before it, wants to hear anything other than the truth. This means anything other than the true Word of God. People believe that they can know God apart from the Bible and cling onto experiences and emotions to base their faith on. Evidences of this are the displays of ecstatic spiritual masturbation that plagues chapel meetings on Christian university campuses around the country, youth meetings, and even typical sunday morning worship at local churches. People are promoting the idea that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling, seeing, and  hearing God. And if you are not having such sensual experiences you lack intimacy with God. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In reality, all they are doing is pleasing themselves by hyping up emotional frenzies on their own and thinking it is God.

Besides this excess in charismatic nonsense are the ideas that sharing the gospel or evangelizing has nothing to do with talking about sin, God’s wrath and our redemption through Christ’s death on the cross. Instead, they claim the gospel is about social justice and doing good deeds around the world. They do not want to talk about how people are sinners and under God’s wrath headed to Hell because they believe it is offensive. In their language, offensive means “unloving.” So, they hide this truth from others by claiming their style of evangelization is about relationships and examples of goodness. They do not understand that good works through helping the poor and less fortunate is the precurser to explaining God’s truth in the Bible. Without the Bible no one can know God or be saved.

Their beliefs are a different theology (false theology), and with a different idea of theology, different theological terms spring up. It is not uncommon to hear people describe their churches like this:

“Our goal is to spread the gospel of Jesus through creational reconciliation in a relational format by showing God’s love through social justice as we are a communal family that seeks to cultivate strong missional propinsities within the body of Christ through authenticity in holistic worship that enables the working of the gifts of the Spirit to be discovered and unleashed in each individual’s life with the goal of helping spread peace and joy in the world through tolerant understanding of human needs emphasizing God’s Kingdom here on earth in a relevent, applicable fashion that fosters growth, spiritual formation, contemplation, and the revitalization of the followers of Jesus.”

What does that even mean? This is by no means too much of an exaggeration either. I am not joking. This is really how some people describe their church’s mission statement.

So now we have new theological terms: missional, relational, communal, authenticity, holistic and so forth… Words that were never found in any theological books anywhere in church history before the 1990’s. It seems they have more to do with Environmentalism, Marxism, and the New Age religion.

They have changed the gospel of salvation that teaches God’s grace. The message that God who is holy and punishes sin, still loves His people enough to provide a way out by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ on the cross. People want to avoid the law of God which demands the death penalty for evil because they know people do not want to hear the Law. So they avoid speaking about it and claim such punishment is not true. They want to teach that people are good, and by doing good works on earth through social activism, non-prophet organizations, and similar things is what wins points with God. They go so far as to claim Universialism; that God will allow everyone into Heaven and no one will be punished for their sins because sin really does not exist. Instead of it being sin, it is just confusion, distortion, or a misunderstanding that people have. They just need to realize God exists in all things, and create world peace by tolerating all religions.

This reminds me of a couple of proverbs I read today.

Proverbs 28:9 – “Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law— even his prayer is detestable.”

Proverbs 28:13 – “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.”

I think these verses speak for themselves to any discerning Christian who understands the times we live in. The true church needs to keep teaching the gospel of true reconciliation: reconciliation between God and man by teaching that repentance for sins brings true salvation beause Jesus Christ died on the cross in a violent death that took our sin onto His flesh. Our sins were destroyed through Christ’s death and only by His death could they have been taken away. Through repentence and faith in God which is a gift from God, not something anyone can choose or decide to have, (because somehow they are smart enough or righteous enough to to decide to accept God) is how man is given salvation and forgiveness of sins, and is truly reconciled with God.

Prevelent Violence, Punk Rock Skateboarding, Gangster Attack!

       Prevelent Violence, Punk Rock Skateboarding, Gangster Attack!

        Do we live in a violent world or what? Violance is everywhere and has always been. Violent and murderous men have been in the world since its beggining. Cain committed the first murder by killing his brother Abel. Abel’s blood spilled across the ground. You can read about this in only the 4th chapter of the Bible, Genesis 4. It sure did not take long for humans to go from disobeying a simple order by God (Genesis 3:6) to committing a heinous and viscious acts. Later down the line of Cain’s family a man named Lamech killed a youth for injuring him (Genesis 3:23-24). Apparently, vengence was prevelent by this time.  

        The history of the world is plagued with violence including everything from simple murders to world wide wars of mass destruction. The Bible itself has many stories of wars and battles; assassinations between Israel and it’s pagan enemies. Evil men are always causing trouble. Wars are not uncommon, so being alarmed at them does not seem to be logical if one knows history. The only thing we should be alarmed about is the signs of the times and what biblical prophecy says about the end. With the media, we can see all kinds of stories about death and mayhem that we could not see before radio, television, and now the internet. Even so, I still think that violence today is at an all time high with more murders, more gangs and organized crime, more sociopathic dictators murdering their own people, and more ethnic cleansing. There are more rapes in my opinion and more unspeakable acts against children as well. Not only do pedophiles rape and kill children, our own government funds the death of unborn Children; thousands each day.

        Proverbs talks about this very issue of violence. In fact, during the time of king Solomon there had been all kinds of killers and evil men setting innocent people up for death. Proverbs 1:10-19 says,

“My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they say — ‘Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun! Let’s swallow them alive, like Sheol, still healthy as they go down to the Pit. We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder. Throw your lot with us, and we’ll share our money’ — my son, don’t travel that road with them or set food on their path, because their feet run toward trouble and they hurry to commit murder. It is foolish to spread a net where any bird can see it, but they set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives. Such are the paths of all who pursue gain dishonestly; it takes the lives of those who profit from it.”

A 4-board break, I have Martial skills.

This passage speaks not only of violence but also theivery. I think many people have dealt with such people and can see it all over the news. We have gangs, organized crime, serial killers, spree killers, mass murderers, thugs, rapists, child preditors, terrorists, thieves and robbers who kill for money, men full of rage, and killers who do it just for thrills. This is one reason why I trained in Martial Arts for self-defense and recommend more people to do so. I think in my life such attacks and threats have claimed me as a victim.

My Own Story

        One story I have from my own life experience is the time I was skateboarding with a friend and his little brother. He later lost contact with me and rejected me as a friend so I refer to him as “a guy” in the following story I wrote when I was only 15 years old. I wrote this story soon after the events happened in all of it’s immature glory. I wrote it for an internet, skateboarding zine called YoBeat in their 11th issue in the letters section. There was a contest for the coolest skateboarding/snowboarding story, so I thought I would try to win. I did not win, but nonetheless here is my story written in 15 year old punk skater language with immature slang terms, grammar, and minor offensive language. I censored anything that was “too offensive” for most church kids. You can see the change in my maturity level I have gone through over the years so please enjoy this humerous account while at the same time keeping in mind the seriousness of the issue that truly happened to me. It was a very tough time in my life where I became a victim of violence.

Attacked while skateboarding through a park

        Here is the story:  

14 year old skateboarder

        “One night I was skateboarding through a park with a guy and his little brother. We were going home. We came across a BUTT LOAD of gangsters!! Dang this sucked!!! We ignored them and skated on. I looked behind me and the next thing I know they are chasing us. I’m like, “DUDE RUN!! They are coming!! RUN!!” The guy and his little bro couldn’t hear me. I guess they were too far ahead and the sound of their wheels made too much noise.
        So ya the gangster fags caught up with us. they surrounded us. We were like, “Uhh what’s up? What’s a matter?” They didn’t talk and started pushing us around. I tried to walk out of the circle they had us in, but they wouldn’t let me out; they kept blocking me. I was scared because they were going to kill us. They said, “We hate skaters.” I was like, “Man these
guys are a bunch of idiots.”
        I said, “What’s wrong with skaters?”
        They said, “We hate skaters.” They didn’t give us a reason.
        The guys little bro ran. They got his board. They threw it over a fence. Then they got the guys board, threw it over the fence. Then they asked for my board. I was like, “NO!” this stupid G-fag started pushing me saying, “Give me your board!” I was like, “No! It’s mine!” He kept pushing me and pushing me back.
        Pretty soon I got fed up with it and smacked him in the head with my board. Then 4 guys jumped on me and threw me on the ground. I looked up and I saw a foot heading straight toward me. Then it hit me in the face. OUCH!!!! They kept kicking my back and head. I curled up but it didn’t help much. It hurt pretty bad. The guy that was with me started kicking them and
throwing them off me. Then I got up and grabbed my board and was all dizzy. The guy I smacked in the head came back to me. I was all, “Shoot! He’s going to get pay back on me! NOOOO!” Well I didn’t say it. I was just thinking that. Then he said “Gimme your board.” I said “No”. Then he said throw it over the fence. So I was scared so I threw it. Then I started walking way from him. There was like 15 gangsters beating us up.
        Me and the guy who was with me were walking away but they came around and stopped us. Then this G SLUT was with them. They probably gang bang her a lot hahaha! Anyway she was all, “Which one of you f—-ng whatevers broke my
boyfriends glasses?” Aww he broke his little sun glasses. I feel soo sorry for him. We didn’t break them he broke them himself while beating us up.
        Anyway then the guy who was with me said, “We didn’t break your stupid glasses!” Right then I knew we were going to get beat up sooo bad!! They were going to get payback for something they did themselves breaking his own glasses. This short G-fag came up behind me and punched me 2 times in
the head. Then a guy did a Bruce lee yell just trying to make me jump. Then he went up to the guy who was with me and said “WWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Then the guy who was with me kicked him! haha! That G was all pissed after that.
        Well I knew they were going to do something really mean and nasty to us. And I saw a light in a house. So I just ran like crazy into the house without knocking and said, “HELP! HELP! HELP!!” The people in the house were all freaked out. It was kind of funny. There was a lady and 2 other guys. 1 was a hippie, and there was a little girl in there. About maybe 4 years old. She was a cutie kid. Anyway. They told me to stay inside and they ran out there and the G cowards ran off like the p—–s
they really are. Heck I could have beat any 1 of them 1-1 fighting but they all ganged up. What wusses. RAP SUCKS!!!!
        Then the cops came and we gave them a report. But of course we are just kids. So it’s not a big deal. Kids don’t mean anything. So why do anything about it? Psh, the cops
probably thought we started the whole thing. Cops need to start doing something for once!!
***
        Dude, then the next day…We went skating again at the park. 2 of the Gs who beat us up came by. They said, “Look! It’s those 2 skater boys we beat up last night.” So we left just so no more trouble would happen. We wanted to go through the park to a school so we could skate there. It’s a good place for skating. So we went around the whole park through streets.
        Then a light blue pickup truck came zooming bye. They swerved for us like they were trying to hit us. I was like, “What a crazy driver.” There was 3 guys in the truck. They stopped way up ahead and were staring at us. We were
like, “Oh, crap! What’s this?”
        We knew they were goig to wait for us to get up there and they were going to do something. So we sat down. The driver
flashed a stupid Westside gang, hand sign out the window. I was like, “Ohh crap! NOT MORE Gangster CRAP FAGS!!!” They drove off. I was like.”Whew!” Then we sat down behind a fence because we thought they were going to turn around. But instead they went around the block and saw us anyway.
        We booked it down a gravel road and through people’s backyards.
        The guys got out of the truck and started looking for us. 1 guy was soo freaking HUGE!!!!! I was soo scared. We both were. Then this guy said, “HEY WHAT ARE YOU GUYS
DOING IN MY BACKYARD?!?” We told him what was up. He went out front and said to the guys in the truck: “You guys got a problem?” Then they said, “No.” and took off in their stupid light blue truck.
        Again, the cops came and we talked to them and NOOOOOTHING happened. Stupid cops. I mean I respect
cops for what they are about and what they try to do but they DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS!! That pisses me off. Now every day I have to see some of the gangsters that beat us up walking down the street and in stores around here. Just doing fine like nothing happened. It’s OK. MAN!!!
Stupid! I get so mad every time I see them. But oh well. All the
gangsters around here hate skaters for no reason. It doesn’t make sense. Practically everyone around here listens to rap and is a wannabe gangster. I hate my town!!

Well that was the story about the time I got beat up and crap. Its all true. It all happened like last summer.

Me skateboarding back in the day

       *My use of the word fag is more in retaliation to what the “gangster” white kids called us: “Skater fags.” So please don’t bash me over the head with political correctness. I was after all 15 years old…

This all happened in the town of Eugene, Oregon where I grew up. It happened in the summer of 1997. What is really sad is that I was a blue belt in Taekwondo and was not ready to defend myself in such a real street situation. So when I got back to the gym I told my instructor to teach me how to really street fight and that Taekwondo did not work. So then he taught me some more self-defense oriented moves. I have trained in Martial Arts for many years now and dabbled in a few different styles. I try to train or learn what I can now with the limitted money I have since classes are so expensive.

Riding manuel, I could to them far

       This was a very extremely violent attack on me and a friend. The pain was so intense as being beat over and over with fists and feet all over your head, face, back, and neck hurts so bad. Everything was so fast paced, and I was dazed from being beat up for about 20 seconds. After that, fists kept smacking me from every direction until I got help. Thank God I survived, I seriously thought I was going to be killed. I cried out to God to make it stop and it did eventually.

        Back in the day in my town, all of the White kids were listening to 2-Pac and Snoop Doggy Dog, and other rappers who claimed to be Crips or Westside. All of the white kids wanted to be gangsters and claimed to be Crips and Westside which made no sense. Except it was during the Westcoast and Eastcoast hip hop war of the 1990’s that was prevelent throughout MTV and hip hop magazines. I became a really tough hardcore punk rock skateboarding kid and completely rejected popular culture. Over time many of the hip hop kids became skateboarders and skate videos started displaying rap music and skateboarding went completely mainstream and boring. It lost it’s edge. So the wars I faced in my own town against “gangsters” was pointless on their superficial end. These kids were known to attack anyone who was not dressed in baggy pants or listening to rap music. If they saw a punk, skateboarder, or alternative type of kid they would want to beat them up. They created their own small street gang called “The Santa Clara Thugz” since the area of town I lived in was called Santa Clara, a suburb of Eugene, Oregon. 

Skateboarding in college

I became a punk by 16, I am 18 in this photo

        The point of this blog entry was to talk about how violence is prevelent in society and will get even more violent and insane as time goes on. It’s heading there at a very alarming rate, yet the secular world wants to counteract this with global peace initiatives and a New World Order, global government. The Antichrist with all of the violence in the Middle East will be seen as a savior when he creates peace there, and thus most likely peace around the world. The Bible knew of such violent men as Solomon wrote about in Proverbs 1, and today sociopathic violence exists at an extreme rate. Beware, be safe, hold onto the Word of truth and keep witnessing for Christ and try to stay alive if you can. But when we die we go to Heaven so we don’t need to worry as much. If we get martyred for Christ it is an honor.

 

Since I survived I was able to skate in the Philippines in 2009

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

         1998. YoBeat. Issue 11: The Cool-Guy Issue, date accessed, September
                 19th, 2010, from http://www.yobeat.com/issue11/stories.htm.

Philippines Basic Values Model, Conflict Management Styles, Globalization (Change)

*This was originally written in July 2009 while I was in the Philippines doing my final research  for my Intercultural Studies Degree. I welcome any thoughts or critiques of my research by Filipinos so please leave me comments to tell me how bad I got it wrong, or to tell me how accurate I am! Either way is cool for me as long as I learn more.

Philippines Basic Values Model, Conflict Management Styles, Globalization (Change) 

Introduction

        Being able to live in the Philippines for six weeks has given me insight into some of the basic values that Filipino culture shares. The first section of this paper will discuss issues such as their sense of time, way of thinking, their reactions to crises situations, social interaction, their focus on status ascribed prestige VS. achievement ascribed prestige, and their way of dealing with vulnerability. I also got insight into how they handle conflicts which the second section of this paper will explain, and I saw the way globalization has changed their culture which will be discussed in the third section of this paper. This paper’s conclusions to Filipino culture are based on my personal observation living in the Philippines for six weeks during the summer of 2009 and uses the charts and descriptions from Christianity Confronts Culture by Mayers (1987), and Ministering Cross-Culturally by Lingenfelter and Mayers (2003) to describe my observations.  

Section I: Basic Values Model

        The basic values people share within a culture can tell an outsider a lot about how the people group lives and works in virtually every aspect of life. It prepares the outsider to be ready for cultural adjustment when living within the new culture,and it also helps the outsider cope or calm down when a new cultural belief or action occurs which offsets the outsider’s view of life. The following six comparisons of basic values can help the outsider calmly deal with new frustrations that Filipino culture might bring upon them. These comparisons also show some similarities between Filipino culture and American culture.

Time orientation VS. event orientation

        Filipinos have a different sense of time than most westerners, especially Americans. Where Americans expect punctuality, as they can get testy when people do not show up on time, Filipinos tend to be more relaxed. Filipinos are event oriented, whereas American culture is time oriented. Filipinos can be early or late depending on the preference of the individual. I was able to observe such traits when I went to churches in Metro Manila and Rizal. Many Filipinos arrived late, some of them even 30 minutes late during the sermon and no one was bothered by such tardiness or at least seemed to care a lot.

Filipino church youth meeting

        My observations show that it is important for Filipinos to be at church during the sermon, but there are different situations that can cause people to be late; so it is understandable for people to arrive after the service has already started. Even with people showing up late, the church service remained the same length of time as an average American church service lasts. Americans and westernized Filipinos call such behavior Filipino Time, and events are usually adjusted to start later then stated beforehand. Most of the time events will start about 30 minutes later than listed.

        An opposite effect of Filipino time can possibly occur all though it is more rare. For example, a pastor talked to me on the phone and discussed meeting me the next day at 1:30pm, because earlier he had to teach a Karate class for his Martial Arts ministry to youth living in the slums. When he arrived, he showed up an hour early; at 12:30pm. I was not ready to go, but he was; so I felt like I had to rush and brush my teeth fast and gather my things. I jokingly mentioned he was to arrive later, but he stated that his class got out early and his other engagements were cancelled. He did not call to warn me ahead of time. After we left I reflected on the situation and realized that he was not rushing me to leave fast which is something my American mind was trained to assume. When he came to the house he calmly spent time talking to the pastor’s wife I was with and was in no rush.  I had expected him to come at 2pm, which would be 30 minutes later than he announced. Even so, event orientation played out on his end while he waited for me to get ready with no complaints. He was living for the current event of speaking with the pastor’s wife while he waited for me to get ready for us to leave, which would be the next event to come up after.  

        In all of these situations, concern for details of the event was what mattered with a “let come what may” outlook not tied to any precise schedule. Stress on completing the event as it went along was the reward in itself, and the emphasis of the event was the present experience rather than the past or future.

Dichotomistic thinking VS. holistic thinking

        Filipinos think dichotomistically instead of holistically. This can be seen in their sense of morality, acceptance of people from other classes, and how they make choices for things. Most Filipinos believe in right and wrong and in orderly fashions. Most Filipinos go to school at least some point in their lives and are influenced by Western thinking in their institutions, as their history has been one of Western colonization by the Spanish for 333 years; and then the United States for the first half of the 20th Century.

        Most of the Filipino nationals I was around spoke in terms such as, “They are wrong.” And “They think they are better then others.” Many Filipinos express bitterness towards the upper class Filipinos. The lower class Filipinos claim that the more “rich” class thinks they are better than the poor people. Security comes from the feeling that one is right and fits into a particular role, or category in society. Filipinos, while being more shy to express strong opinions, still hold to beliefs that there is a right way to live and a wrong way to live. Judgments are black/white and right/wrong.

Crisis orientation (declarative) VS. noncrisis orientation (interrogative)

        Filipinos are highly noncrisis oriented and definately not crises oriented. This can be seen in how they fix road construction problems, fix housing problems, and prepare for emergencies. Filipinos are fatalistic and live for the present. They do not fix problems unless the problems are already happening. For example, in the Santa Lucia Mall in Antipolo, there was a leek that was sprung and water began to flood the floor on the second level. The water could have splashed down the balcony onto people, but the water was instead directed toward the escalator and leaked inside of it; so maintenance men had to fix it while I was there. It was interesting at how calm people were. No one was in a hurry or apologetic. All of the workers and security just called in the problem and casually walked around it and watched the water flow. They only occasionally told people to watch out for it if they were close. In the United States people would be rushing to the problem and yelling on their walkie-talkies and putting up security barriers such as cones or caution signs. This problem would also not have happened usually in the USA as it would have been fixed way before it would ever have leaked. Or if it did happen in the USA it would frantically be taken care of.

        Most Filipino children when given food will eat it all right away without saving any for the future (unless they have hungry brothers or sisters back home, then they will save some for them). People do not stock up on supplies as much as they do in the United States. People tend to buy things as they need them. Even with such attitudes, I noticed a lot of sharing which was interesting, and calm reactions to food and clothing distribution among the poor communities. Nobody ran up to the box and went crazy like many children and some adults would do in the United States. This was due to community standards within individual groups (of course the children were controlled by their parents). This collectivistic mindset causes people to be concerned with the needs of others and not just their own. So, when something unusual happens like free clothes and food, or a leak in a pipe, people are normally calm.

        The road construction in Metro Manila shows that the culture is noncrisis in an obvious way. One will see that there are many pot holes, unfinished pavement, signs crooked, broken street lights, and other problems that construction workers, for the most part, in the United States would be called to fix as soon as possible. I have seen broken street lights in my neighborhood back when I was a boy in Oregon get fixed within a few days. The Philippines would not fix something unless there was dire need. Eventually, when they feel like it, it will get fixed. This plays into the event orientated culture of this country as well. Another example is the road that is unfinished near the American missionary’s house I stayed at in Antipolo. It needed plumbing fixed as well as paving and it had been over a month and still had not been taken care of.

        Filipinos downplay the possibility of crisis; avoid taking actions, and delay decisions. The actual experience of a crisis is what matters to them. While all these attitudes occur to many situations, expert advice is sought after, but things can still be delayed or not tampered with. Filipinos are interrogative, and definitely not declarative, when it comes to crisis.

Task orientation (goal-conscious, object as goal) VS. person orientation (interaction-conscious, person as goal)

        Filipinos are definitely person oriented whereas Westerners are more task oriented. Filipinos focus on persons and relationships and find satisfaction with interaction. Filipinos are group oriented and deplore loneliness. Filipinos hardly ever walk around alone. They usually walk in groups and are close knit. They have a term called barkada which on the surface means “your circle of friends,” but has a deeper meaning almost like a brotherhood. The barkada are the people a person grew up with and are very close to that person. One would sacrifice a lot for their barkada. Within this circle of friends men are called pare and women called mare. These slang terms have the equivalent of “homeboy/homegirl” or “bro/girl” in the United States.

        Filipinos love fellowship and spend a lot of time with one another hanging out. They sit in groups on the streets, and at the market place. Filipinos are also physically close to one another as men will put their arms around men, or rest a hand on their friends shoulder as they walk. Women will hold hands and hug each other’s arms as they walk as well. It shows that community and close relationships are important to Filipinos. These physical actions are completely non-sexual, whereas in Western culture such actions would be seen as  homosexual affection.

        There are some exceptions that fall more into task orientation than they do person orientation. Some of the higher class Filipinos, the extremely rich people, were at my friend’s cousin’s baby shower, and I was able to observe their behavior and the things they talked about. They reminded me almost of people I have known in Southern California. They are more individualistic and achievement driven as they have a deep influence of Western culture that comes from their wealthy upbringing. They are able to buy more Western things that are imported which are more expensive and they pay more attention to Western trends since it is seen as prestigious, and they have access to Western media more often and up to date than most Filipinos. Many are going to international school and studying for certain careers, or are involved in college basketball. These individuals seek friends with similar goals and hang out with similar people and sometimes accept social deprivation for the sake of personal achievements. But this is the minority of Filipino culture since over 90% of the Philippines’ population consists of lower class poor people. This large majority is person oriented.

Status focus (prestige-ascribed) VS. achievement focus (prestige achieved) 

        I found that there are different opinions on whether or not Filipino culture is status focused or achievement focused. I personally think there is a mix, with a large majority pointing toward achievement focus. Even so, there is still status focused people; mostly the Filipinos with high Spanish blood. Filipinos have a colonial mentality which leads to many people to look up to others with lighter colored skin. Most of the light skinned Filipinos have Spanish blood and there is still a small group of extremely rich Filipinos who own successful corporations who do not even speak Tagalog, or a native dialect (such people speak a form of Filipinoized Spanish or English). Filipinos also look up to Americans greatly and are very impressed when a white American walks through their market or barangay (neighborhood). In my experience I was stared at by everyone and hit on many times by females; and all of the Filipinos who knew I was from the United States were very interested to talk to me. Many street and squatter children called out the word “Americano!” with absolute delight and fascination.

        African Americans are also prestigious to Filipinos as they are fascinated with African American culture and style. When I was talking with a girl whose father is a CEO of a major internet and phone company in the Philippines, she told me how fascinated she was with the way African Americans talk and their style of dress. Kobe Bryant is very popular in the Philippines as well as many African American hip hop and rap musicians.

Manny Pacquiao advertisement

        With such a colonial mentality there is a focus on prestige ascribed through status, but even so, most Filipinos are able to ascribe prestige through their achievements. Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer alive today and world famous. He is Filipino and lives in the Philippines and is an example of status achieved prestige. He grew up poor and is now a millionaire; the Filipinos praise him as he is a national hero (I have seen many Filipinos in Metro Manila wearing Manny Pacquiao t-shirts, I bought one too and wore it around). People with successful businesses also get a lot of praise by other Filipinos. Education is one of the main routes to prestige being achieved by status. People will associate with such people regardless of background as long as they have accomplished great achievements in life with only the small social elite mentioned above having different ideas of status. The amount of respect most Filipinos achieve varies with their accomplishments and failures; attention is focused on personal performance.

Concealment of vulnerability (vulnerability-as-weakness) VS. willingness to expose vulnerability (vulnerability-as-strength)

        Concealing vulnerability is very important to Filipinos. This is highly unlike American culture where more people are shown to be less concerned with failure. Many people in the United States see failure as a learning experience that benefits their life (vulnerability-as-strength). There is relative unconcern about error and failure, with an openness to alternative views and criticisms. Filipino culture, on the other hand, is the opposite and a desire to highly protect self-image at virtually all costs exists. There is a reluctance to go beyond one’s recognized limits or to enter the unknown; and a denial of culpability.

        From interacting with different Filipinos I was told that face-saving is very important. What is interesting though, is that other Filipinos when observing other people’s failures will try hard to save the other person’s face by directing attention away from their failures or by simply laughing about it as if it is no big deal or just a joke. Even the person who makes a mistake will laugh at himself on purpose (sometimes causing others to laugh as well before they even noticed the mistake). When I was spending the night with a national pastor in the slums of Antipolo, the pastor repeatedly made jokes about how terrible his house was and that all of the cockroaches are his pets (as well as the mouse and lizard that invaded it while I was there). Before I got to his house he kept explaining how his home is humble, and if I came over I would have cockroaches crawl all over me as I slept. He said this in a joking tone, but the majority of it was true: his house was terrible according to American standards and cockroaches infested it (but none crawled on me thank the Lord, because he told me to keep the lights on and tie a cloth around my eyes). He had to make such jokes before I came over in order to see if I would still accept him as a friend knowing how poor he was. When I showed myself to be accepting of him and his family and his way of life, he was very impressed and relieved to know things would be okay. All of his negative jokes about his house were a way to protect his vulnerability. He was only willing to expose his vulnerability after I was able to establish trust with him.

Section II: Conflict Management Styles

        The observations I was able to make after spending time in the Philippines about the culture’s conflict management styles have been scarce. I have not seen much if any conflicts. The closest thing to an observation has been word of mouth given to me after something happened. The closest conflicting situation I was involved with was when the mother of my pastor whose house we stayed in was upset that her maid borrowed money from me in order to buy laundry detergent so she could wash my clothes. She did this because the house was completely out of it. I was the one who suggested borrowing money, but the mother was extremely upset at what the maid did and apologized to me about it and made sure I knew that she reprimanded her maid. I felt really bad because I did not mean to get the maid in trouble. It seems that this conflict was confrontational on the mother’s part. She used competing to win the argument. It was a win/lose style of conflict management and she used her power and rank at the expense of her lower class maid to win the argument and come out as correct. The maid on the other hand used withdrawal as she had no power. She accommodated the mother and was cooperative and yielded to her point of view as she obeyed her order to never borrow money from a guest again.

        Another small example I had was a situation where a salesman for water sports in Boracay was soliciting me. He saw I had a Mixed Martial Arts shirt on and told me he was a fan of the sport. We talked about all kinds of things and he eventually asked me why I was in the Philippines besides for the beach of Boracay. I told him I was doing missionary work and we discussed religion for a short period of time. I told him about Jesus Christ and His free grace that does not come by works, as the man earlier told me he was a Catholic. He completely avoided the discussion any further about religion. He felt like it was a conflict between me and him and changed the subject by stating, “Hey, let’s talk about Martial Arts again.” The man withdrew from the discussion on religion completely side stepping the issue.

            The small amount of conflict situations I observed showed me that Filipinos are much like Americans in how they manage conflicts. I definitely need to make more observations of conflicts in order to more accurately describe Filipino conflict management styles, but one thing I came out learning was that Filipinos do not like to argue a lot. This is not much different than the typical situation in the United States in our postmodern age where a conversation that confronts other people’s world views would not be approved of. Yet, in some cases Filipinos will argue if they feel dishonored, and it will never end until the person either wins or walks away in shame from what I have heard from word of mouth. I have heard stories of people acting irrational and committing violent acts in order to prove their point. This would be a very extreme situation.

Section III: Globalization (Change)

        Globalization definitely has its effect on Filipino culture. I have seen countless examples of American products advertised in the Philippines, and all of the movies and music in the stores are virtually all artists and films that are popular in the U.S. with a small amount being Filipino films and artists. Practically every single American brand of fast food is in Metro Manila as well. Filipinos also want to wear Nike and Addidas shoes because it is seen as prestigious to own them.

        When it comes to movie stars and other celebrities, Filipinos idolize American stars (the only major exception being Manny Pacquiao). Billboards depict famous basketball players such as Kobe Bryant and his new Nikes named after himself. Americans in general are given prestige and lots of respect. They are treated many times better than average Filipinos.

            The internet is huge in the Philippines as well as cell phones. Information travels fast here. Poverty does not keep Filipinos from using technology as many internet cafes exist with inexpensive rates as well as cheap cell phone plans. Virtually every Filipino owns a cell phone, even many people living in squatter communities as well as street youth.

            Filipinos also try their best to dress in the latest styles of clothing in American culture. If a person goes to the Philippines they can expect to see hip hop clothing, emo dress, punk fashion, and the latest high end fashions. Though, most of the time with the poverty level so high many wear whatever they can get their hands on more often than not.

        Filipino culture has changed a lot with the times, and the traditional culture is fading away. Dating relationships are much like what American youth go through and men and women’s roles are becoming more equal. The media highly influences Filipinos as even their own movies and soap operas depict similar life styles as American soap operas and movies do. They have a woman president, and many women have high paying jobs. Some older Filipinos see the changes as negative, but there is nothing they can do about it so they just flow with it. I did not observe resistance to such change; only mild criticisms of how people dress such as the time a grandpa questioned the hole in his grandson’s jeans and talked about how in his day he would be embarrassed to wear such a thing. He described how ridiculous it is for people to buy clothes with holes already in them for fashion; although, his grandson did not buy them that way. 

        Another example of cultural change due to globalization is that many Filipinos are trying to adopt the American sense of time. An example of this was what happened at a mega church I attended one Sunday that the American missionary I stayed with goes to. The preacher was giving examples about unity in the church and following rules. Two kids came in late and sat in the balcony and the preacher looked up and said, “and people are coming in late” in a joking, but serious way. This showed that the preacher had a sense of Western time orientation as he thought it was wrong that people came in late. Many Christian Filipinos have adopted the term “Christian time” to refer to showing up at church before the service starts. I think that most of the high end, mega church attendees think this way, whereas the urban poor and people in the provinces are more relaxed about time.

Conclusion

        Filipino culture has many Westernized aspects as well as Asian ways of life. It is a unique culture that is far different than any Asian country. The Philippines is a great example of globalization and the basic values of Filipinos have a wide range. Their conflict management styles also vary. More insights could be made about the culture if I had more than six weeks to spend in this country. A person should experience this culture for themselves to get the best insight. Filipino culture is truly fascinating.

References

        S.G. Lingenfelter and M.K. Mayers. (2003). Ministering Cross             
                  Culturally
. Ada, MI: Baker Academic.

        M.K. Mayers. (1987). Christianity Confronts Culture. Grand Rapids,  
                   MI: Zondervan Publishing.

Youtube Suspended My Account

Youtube Suspended My Account

        The following is an email Youtube sent me regarding my account. Apparently some Filipinos don’t understand American humour, or messages I am trying to convey. I was also told one of my other videos where I am getting a haricut violated copy write material which is not true. I get ONE strike and now my account is suspended for 6 months? This is insane. Here is the email:

“YouTube | Broadcast Yourself™

Regarding your account: whitedragonawa

The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines:

  • What’sa Filipino anyway??? – (whitedragonawa)

Your account has received one Community Guidelines warning strike, which will expire in six months. Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of your ability to post content to YouTube and/or the termination of your account.

Sincerely,

The YouTube Team”

        My Youtube account, whitedragonawa, has been suspended since last night. I have absolutely no clue as to why it was suspended. I suspect though, that possibly some enemies of the truth who did not like my videos about the gospel could have flagged me a lot, or my account somehow got hacked. Google gave no explanation as to why my account was suspended. Also, none of my videos violated copy write laws, but I got a weird rejection from adsense saying one of them did. But it’s not true. So if you tried to access my whitedragonawa channel and it said it was gone, this is why. Pray I get my videos back online soon with no problems from Youtube or Google or any mean people flagging me for no reason. I worked really hard to try and build up my channel, so I am pretty upset. I am going to take a break from Youtube for a bit and see if my account gets restored one day, or I will just make a new channel with a new username and re-upload what I can. If anyone has tried to message me on that site and did not get a response, I am sorry just leave me a comment here and I will try to email you personally. Stay tuned…

8 Summary Observations About The Philippines

        8 Summary Observations About The Philippines

        After completing my internship in the Philippines I have learned many things and experienced a lot. It was a life changing experience that I will never forget. I loved my experience in the Philippines and know that I want to go back to do full time missionary work someday. God revealed many things to me on this trip. In this paper I will describe some of the ways my lifestyle has changed, my most difficult adjustments during my trip; I will assess myself and my attitude during my internship; I will describe any special communication problems I had and how I dealt with them; and I will give new insights that I gained into the character and work of God and the way I view the church.

        I came to the Philippines with research about the country already done, so I had an idea of the way people lived there and how they survive. But nothing can really teach one better than having it shown to them first hand. I was amazed at how people lived in the Philippines and the fascinating things they do to survive. The Philippines is full of poverty everywhere you look. People live in the worst housing conditions imaginable and children have to work hard at very young ages to make money. I saw many street children with no shoes on running up to cars on heavy trafficked roads trying to sell something. The kids were filthy and were wearing random clothing, sometimes boys had to wear a girls t-shirt because that is all they had. Many Filipinos grow up on the streets and in the slum neighborhoods, and squatter areas. It is a tough life yet most Filipinos show themselves outwardly to be happy people.

        I learned that meaningful friendships and close relationships are what matter in life. Life is a struggle and it is painful, but friendships are the medicine that help ease the suffering. Filipinos can enjoy life even though it is so hard for them. The majority do suffer, and do feel pain, but they do not allow the pain to rule over their lives and they continue on experiencing the joys of life. This is especially true of the Christians there. I heard many of them praying and thanking God for the small amount of things that they had. One pastor told me he was very thankful he had a home for his family and food to eat. He was thanking God for a stuffy, small shack of a house, with many cockroaches and a mouse that would pop in from time to time. The food he ate was fish heads and rice with bean sprouts mixed in ketchup. He made coffee by putting in a sprinkle of instant coffee mix and huge spoonfuls of coconut sugar and creamer. Yet he was happy and enjoyed life!

        I think part of the way my lifestyle has changed is to really be thankful for what I have. I have so much more than any Filipino and I need to thank God for blessing me with my life in America. When I grew up, I felt extreme depression in my life and I realized it was because I did not have joy in life and no true friendships to help me. I will now cherish the real friendships that I have today and put a larger effort into caring for my friends and being there for them. I really like how Filipinos are close to one another and love each other. Friendships in the United States many times are superficial and about power and status. Many times people will hang out in a group and never really care for one another or have any deep emotional attachments. The Filipinos are different, and they are emotionally attached and know each other more intimately. I want to have more friendships this same way.

        Some of my difficult adjustments when staying in the Philippines were dealing with my American status there. I have never gotten so much attention in my entire life before going to that country. Everyone who saw me would say any random American slang term or phrase they could remember like, “Yeah man! What’s up man!” and “Gimme five!” The girls got excited when they saw me and many of them would yell for me and come onto me. At first they were shy and acted afraid that I saw them, but then they would giggle and tell me, “You’re so handsome!” Even the many male homosexuals would call me out and ask me for my name and number (that was one of the most difficult issues which made me the most uncomfortable). Lots of the older Filipinos would call me “Joe” and say, “Americano! Hey!” I was offered beers (of course I did not take any since I was on Biola contract), coffee, food, and other things as people wanted to talk with me. I got treated like a celebrity.

        I felt like the reason I was so attractive to them was because of American media making my culture popular to them. This also worked hand in hand with the Filipinos colonial mentality. It pains me to know that I am put on a pedestal just because of my ethnicity; but I used it for God’s glory as it made it easier to share the Gospel with people. I believe Christians should use the sinful attitudes of others and take advantage of such weaknesses in order to witness Christ and show the real way to live while showing disdain for such ignorance. I would often talk about how great Filipinos are, and how amazing the country is, and how beautiful their brown skin was. I remember one time I told a small girl that she was beautiful because she was so dark. All of the other girls were making fun of her and saying she was black and that it was not beautiful. In this way I made her feel better about herself while impacting the others girls thoughts about skin color. I think that is what Jesus Christ would have done.

        My assessment of myself is that I was a learner, and a servant. I came with a great Intercultural Studies (ICS) education that prepared me to be open minded and learn from the culture instead of being the “ugly American” who knew everything. I served many people by helping them out with food, paying a water bill for a pastor, and looking out for the well being of the friends I made. It is not arrogant to claim such things either because it is by God’s initiative that I even have a heart to love others. Any good I did was because of the Holy Spirit’s conviction and not my own corrupt flesh. I was a team player and tried my best to be easy to work with; even if the other team members were not so nice to me or caring. I believe that I was personally prepared for all aspects of my mission trip including dealing with uncaring team members. I prayed a lot for years before going on this trip about the Philippines which spiritually prepared me and I had ICS professors pray over me as well. I was emotionally prepared to go and had many people give me emotional support such as my family and friends. I was glad to leave and did not feel the need to be missing anyone. I was academically prepared because I had my entire ICS education to back me up and this was my last remaining course to obtain my degree. All of these preparations made my work in the Philippines easy and fun. I thank God for preparing me in such ways.

        I did not have a lot of special communication problems while in the Philippines. The only one that is obvious is the fact that I cannot speak Tagalog much. I know a few phrases and it was enough to help me get what I needed. Most Filipinos, fortunately, speak English (even if it is broken). Most people were understandable with only a few who I could not decipher.

        One experience of a communication problem I had was at Mega Mall in Metro Manila. I was on my own and ordering Filipino food at the food court and the Filipinas who were serving me were really impressed with me because I was an American, and they would giggle a lot. They also had thick accents so it was hard to understand what they meant and I had to have them repeat things. I looked stupid because I did not understand their English and I was afraid I was offending them. It turned out I was not. Apparently, in the Philippines using a tray is important at the mall food court for them because most people insisted on me having one when I ordered food. This time their pronunciation was off and I saw them pointing downward toward what seemed like a fried fish. I heard them in my mind saying “Free, free, free!” So I said, “What? Free?” and pointed at it and the girls said “Yes.” So then I said, “Uhh ok…” and I grabbed the fish and put it on my plate. Then they said, “You want that too? Okay!” and were going to charge me for it. I said that I did not want it and then they pointed below and I finally heard them say “tray.” Then I felt really bad and told them I did not want the fish and they were okay with it and took it back even though I touched it. I grabbed a tray and all was well. The other customers beside me were having an entertaining time watching me fumble around. They were staring at me while smiling and snickering the entire time so I was really embarassed.

        There was also a small amount of non-verbal communication I had problems with. I knew all about it, but it was different experiencing it every second by people. In the Philippines most Filipinos raise their eye brows to agree with a person, say yes, or to show interest. In the United States this is either a sexual come on, or a challenge to fight. During the first few days I got confused, but I quickly realized what was going on because of my prior knowledge and adjusted myself properly. I even started to raise my eye brows sometimes, but still felt awkward.

        This trip helped me gained a lot of insights on the character of God. Everything the Bible describes God as is true, and God is a truly loving God who protects the saints. God gives strength to many of His suffering children and they can persevere. Many of the Filipino Christians live hard lives and suffer, but they are full of the Holy Spirit and keep going forward. God is a God who works beyond national borders as well as cultural and ethnographic lines. God is working in the Philippines in different ways than He is in the U.S. I believe that there is a ripe harvest in the Philippines and many are going to accept Christ. There will be more quality Christians with sound doctrine. Many Filipinos are being trained in proper hermeneutics and taking other Bible courses from missionary theologians. The country is living in so much sin and is full of corruption and this keeps many people from living the truth out in their lives and there is a lack of proper biblical instruction. God is also a God of justice and wants to end the large amount of corruption in the Philippines. People there have much religion, but lack true faith in God’s grace. God is moving hearts to see the folly of man-made religious ordinances and works, and showing the glory and power in God’s grace to save them completely and freely. In this way I have seen more of the nature of God’s work in the world.

        I believe that the church is a world-wide, multi-ethnic body of believers in all areas of social standing. There is no partiality with Christ and I see strong Christians living in poverty in the Philippines who are probably better Christians, more knowledgeable in the Bible, and more loving than some Christians in the United States, including pastors. This is not pointing the finger at white americans either, but many multi-ethnic people in the United States as well.

        I also learned more about what it means to be a community of Christians. The church is not a building, as my pastor has been preaching in the Philippines during our trip, it is a community and people need to be involved in each others lives. There needs to be discipleship. God also does not care if you are rich or poor, and many of the poor pastors should not be judged for not speaking English as well as the rich or having what high class Filipinos call “sophisticated” culture.

        My ICS Internship to the Philippines was the best time of my life and God continued to show me things about life, the world, Church, faith, culture, and myself. God is amazing and I love the culture of the Philippines. I now understand the way my lifestyle has changed, difficulties in adjustment I can work on, knowing myself by assessing myself, special communication skills I have learned and more I can learn, and how God works: His nature, and how He has built His church. This has been an amazing time and I think more people should experience the Philippines for themselves. Mabuhay Las Pilipinas!